FOOD AND DRINK
A Beer Lover’s Guide to Montreal Brewpubs
Saying “microbreweries are on trend” might make me seem like the last guest at a party that peaked early. The thing is, microbreweries may have boomed a decade ago, but they honestly are trending all over again in Montreal – every month seems to bring a glistening new brew bar with a whole world of unique sudsy flavours of its own. Here’s a mix of mainstays and new guys on the block you’ll want to check out. STAT.
On Bernard near Parc in Mile End, HELM is an old favourite that serves over a dozen homemade beers made predominantly from Quebec grain among a vast menu that includes wines and liquors of all sorts, including a specialization in whiskeys. The warm space is dominated by a U bar and brick walls painted cream, which reverberate the joyful cacophony of its many regular patrons. The food is as famous as the beer; wash down your pork schnitzel meatballs or your homemade chips with a pint St-Viateur stout or the peppery Clark pilsner.
273 Rue Bernard Ouest, 514-276-0473
Dieu du Ciel
Nestled on posh Laurier Street, at the meeting point of the Plateau, Mile End and Outremont, Dieu du Ciel is decorated in dark woods and no-nonsense bar stools and high tables that contrast with the shiny stainless steel barrels that hold the fermenting beer. The creative suds menu changes constantly, producing solid staples while keeping regulars interested with unusual flavours like a Hibiscus Rosée white beer and the Deadly Sin Special, a coffee-flavoured stout that comes in at 9.7% alcohol. Foodwise, think bar staples made with care: individual pizzas, a charcuterie platter and yummy nachos.
29 Avenue Laurier Ouest, 514-490-9555
A peach leather, beechwood and Carrara marble oasis in Mile Ex, Harricana Brasserie is a lovely place to end a workday around one of the long tables with colleages, or have an intimate chat with your bestie at the bar. In addition to truly delicious food (try the kale salad with bacon and the popcorn tofu, OMG), the menu offers no wine at all, focusing all its attention on a vast choice of international import beers – plus, best of all, an ever-changing menu of homebrews. A recent coup de coeur is the sour, as light as air and refreshing as a summer’s day.
95 Rue Jean-Talon Ouest, 514-303-3039
Favoured by downtown workers and McGill students alike, this large space on Sherbrooke Street doubles in size in the summer thanks to a huge sidewalk terrasse that’s a people-watching hot spot. The spicy Phantasmagoria pale ale is one of a dozen home brews begging for a side of chips, or the house speciality, the EuroDog (the sausage of your choice, served on a baguette with sauerkraut and mustard). The contemporary indoor space is all narrow tall tables, ideal for close encounters and spirited conversations.
245 Rue Sherbrooke Ouest, 514-543-9750
This sleek hole-in-the-wall in the Gay Village is the brewpub attached to Hopfenstark beers. With over 20 of them on tap across a wide range of styles, including the Faust Triple and Captain Swing barley wine, there’s something for everyone’s taste – plus a number of non-Hopfenstarks and a noteworthy range of malt liquors to boot. The food menu is small, but the Flammekueche, an Alsatian type of thin-curst pizza with crème fraîche and lardons, will stave off hunger in style. The retro atmosphere comes courtesy of a regular stream of black-and-white movies projected in the back.
1494 Rue Ontario E, 514-564-4678
The giant U-bar at this old favourite ensures constant service no matter how busy it gets on weekends. It’s a preferred perching spot in this relaxing joint decorated in shiny black lacquered wood and red lanterns, otherwise there are a number of small tables on each side that provide a great view on nights where there’s live music. Cheval Blanc sells its bottles far and wide, but this space on Ontario Street will give you access to their fresh specialty brews, like the delicious seasonal Ambrée d’Hiver, with notes of juniper and cumin. They also make a mean grilled cheese (think aged cheddar, caramelized onions and chipotle salsa).
809 Ontario Rue E, 514-522-0211
Vices & Versa
This Little Italy brewpub spans two storefronts on the Main. It seems to be packed at all times (though I haven’t tested it at 11 am), and serves a seemingly endless menu of specialty microbrewery beers from all over Quebec, as well as imported options, wines and liquors. The scene is loud, happy and tightly packed (sardines have it good), with warm woods and blackboard menus setting the tone. And though there are many food options, I’d skip them to focus on the delicious drinkables – maybe a pint of dark and dangerous Triple XXX by Brasserie Dunham?
6631 Boul St-Laurent, 514-272-2498